wrestling / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction 08.09.12: HBK/Brock, Booker, Barrett, More

August 9, 2012 | Posted by Steve Cook

Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been another crazy week in the world of pro wrestling. SmackDown featured the naming of a new General Manager…Booker T! Shawn Michaels returned on Raw and promised to be in Triple H’s corner at SummerSlam, but Brock Lesnar foreshadowed something sinister by saying he’d be seeing Shawn before then. Speaking of Brock, he & Ryback may or may not have had a physical altercation backstage on Monday. Wade Barrett has been out of action for months and he’s apparently used the time to get back into the world of bare-knuckle fighting. On Impact, Brooke Hogan continues to have some authority and she was even talking to Sting last week. Eric Young’s fishing show debuted this week on Animal Planet. I already asked about James Storm & the Aces & Eights once, but it’s their main angle and I thought it merited a little more discussion. Team Ambition re-named themselves Wrestling’s Most Wanted, but Kyle O’Reilly & Tony Kozina were not wanted at the ROH TV tapings last weekend.

I’ve invited two 411 veterans to discuss these topics. First of all, the man behind the Contentious Ten, Handicapping The News & This is the End(ing), from GodDamn, West Virginia… Gavin Napier!

His opponent is one of Ashish’s lead goons…you can find him all over the website…it’s Jeremy Thomas!

  • Questions were sent out Monday.
  • Participants were told to expect wrestling-related questions.

    1. Brock Lesnar will make sure that Shawn Michaels will not be at SummerSlam.

    Gavin Napier: FACT. The not so veiled threat that Brock would be seeing Shawn before Hunter did makes this all but a guarantee. Whether they repeat the Austin/Pillman drama of a home invasion or it occurs at another WWE show, it’ll happen. I’m more than a little surprised that it didn’t happen Monday night, since patience isn’t a virtue that WWE is known for.

    Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. SummerSlam is one of the company’s bigger PPV events, and expectations for it are always high, not just from a fan perspective but from a business perspective as well. Big-name stars always make people tune in, even if they won’t be competing. Thus, having Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam would be good for WWE. And therefore, Brock Lesnar will not prevent Michaels from being there. Brock will likely try to keep Shawn from being there by virtue of an assault, on-air legal wrangling by Paul Heyman or other methods, but it will all be for naught because when it comes down to it, WWE could use the added drama in the match, and in the hype, that comes with the Heartbreak Kid standing in the Game’s corner as he takes on Brock.

    Score: 0 for 1

    2. Wade Barrett’s promo on Raw made you more interested in his return.

    Gavin Napier: FACT. I really didn’t care about Wade Barrett as an individual before he left. He was feuding with Orton, who bores me to tears. Then he was gone, and we’ve heard next to nothing about him for a long time now. Barrett brings a new wrinkle to the mid card, though, and it looks like WWE is going to invest heavily in him. That would be nice, as the main event scene remains thin.

    Jeremy Thomas: FACT. My initial thought was no, but then I revised that thought because as an assumedly-cynical member of the IWC, there isn’t much that will build my anticipation on an emotional level. There are intellectual reasons that could get me interested, and I can certainly see a couple of things in there that I like. They’ve rebranded him just a little bit, or at least given us a reason to believe he will be better than ever when he came back and that’s an important step in erasing the months that the company squandered him. They didn’t really offer us anything new about Barrett in that promo other than to say that the fire was back, and as a member of the previously-noted cynical IWC, I can say I’ve seen that tactic go flat so many times that it doesn’t give me reason to believe that this will be any better. But as a fan, I actually found the promo really cool and I do think that on an emotional level it did something for my hopes of a reinvigorated push. We’ll have to see how it goes, but I’m optimistic.

    Score: 1 for 2

    3. Ryback would take Brock Lesnar in a fight.

    Gavin Napier: FICTION. Look, I think Brock is a bully that doesn’t react well when someone stands up to him or hits him back. His MMA career bears that out. However, he’s still freakishly strong and educated in the art of ground and pound. Those guys fare well against guys that are just brutes that throw haymakers.

    Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. I have absolutely nothing to base this on, but let’s speculate anyway. Ryback has no professional fighting experience outside of professional wrestling, while Brock is a former UFC champion. (1-0 Brock) Lesnar also, however, has a history with diverticulitis, which could conceivably inhibit him in a fight. (1-1 Tie) Brock is meaner and doesn’t give a rat’s ass, while Ryback failed to win a feud with Panera Bread. (That was a twofer; 3-1 Lesnar) In all seriousness, I have no real clue but just based on impressions of the two, Brock would probably win.

    Score: 2 for 3

    4. Booker T was the right choice for General Manager of SmackDown.

    Gavin Napier: FICTION. Booker is acceptable, but I was really hoping to see William Regal resume a role of authority in WWE. I’m more accepting of Booker as a GM than I am of AJ Lee. I’ll miss him on commentary, though.

    Jeremy Thomas: FACT. There are a couple reasons this was a good choice. The first reason is lack of available alternatives. When you look at people who are willing and able to make the weekly shows who the ‘E might call on for authority figures, the pool is pretty damned shallow. You have Teddy Long who I love, but we’ve been there and done that. Eve would be potentially viable but I imagine the company only wants one girl in charge of a show and AJ’s got that sewn up on Raw, even if it would at least give a legit reason for a feud between two potentially-active Divas. Vickie also suffered from a Redux Syndrome Effect. So who else? Michael Cole? Thank you, no. Besides, Booker T feels like someone who you could buy as an authority figure. He has the wrestling accomplishments and can stand up to pushy talent, which is important. Finally, it takes Booker away from the announcing table which is only a plus in my book. So yeah, I’m happy with that choice.

    Score: 2 for 4


    5. James Storm will be revealed as the leader of the Aces & Eights.

    Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. TNA got lucky and struck gold with Bobby Roode’s heel turn. We all hated it when it happened, but I am happy to say that TNA and Hulk Hogan proved me wrong by showing that Roode made a great main event heel for the company, and he’s been running with it incredibly well. If they try to do it with Storm, it will feel like they’re trying to blatantly make lightning strike twice and I believe the fans will reject it. Besides, Storm is doing great as he is and I don’t know why they would want to pull something like that. Obviously Jeff Jarrett is a likely candidate for the role and honestly, if it’s not him than I could see it being Roode, having let himself take an ass-kicking in order to throw suspicion off himself. I’d prefer either of those options over Storm.

    Gavin Napier: FICTION. TNA’s booking has made sense lately, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here. Jarrett is the obvious choice due to his history with the promotion. I’m sure there will be moments where it appears that Storm is the guy pulling the strings, and he may even take credit briefly. It’ll be Jarrett in the end, though.

    Score: 3 for 5

    6. Brooke Hogan has been an effective authority figure in TNA.

    Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. You have to do something of value to be effective in your role, and the best we can say for Brooke is that she hasn’t fucked things up any worse in terms of the Knockouts Division. There have been some big blows to the division (the departures of Velvet Sky and Angelina Love) but there’s no real evidence that she had anything to do with it; basically the KO Division has been moving along the same path with Brooke in charge that it did when anyone else was in charge. But “not fucking it up” is not a benchmark for success and Brooke hasn’t added anything worth watching to the division. I don’t hate what she’s done, I just don’t care.

    Gavin Napier: FICTION. She hasn’t made the show unwatchable, as many feared she would, but she hasn’t been surprisingly good, either. She’s been used to facilitate matches that probably could have just been made by Hogan, Bischoff, Dixie, or someone else that didn’t increase payroll. I don’t have any complaints about her, but I wouldn’t miss her if she was gone, either.

    Score: 4 for 6

    7. Eric Young’s fishing show will make him more popular & more valuable to TNA.

    Jeremy Thomas: FICTION. Nothing short of full-on mainstream exposure would make any talent more valuable for TNA. Did starring in a music video help Mickie James or Velvet Sky? Not at all. TNA loves their celebrities but they have never considered their own in-ring talent to be celebrities…unless of course they WERE, like Pacman Jones or Angelina from Jersey Shore, or were Hulk Hogan. If Eric managed to become a huge breakout success thanks to his Animal Planet show then sure, he would probably get more value to the company. But really, is starring in a fishing show on Animal Planet going to make him a breakout star? No disrespect to Young or Animal Planet (or fish for that matter), but it’s not very likely. TNA has found their niche to put Eric Young in and it will take more than this to pull him out of it.

    Gavin Napier: FICTION. More popular? No. More valuable? Yes. He’s now free advertising. I don’t think EY is going to see a huge spike in popularity, though. They’ve tried to make him a serious, main event player in the past. It didn’t work. Eric Young works as a comedy character that shows occasional flashes of wrestling ability. Look as what’s worked – goofy Team Canada member, Super Eric, afraid of Rellik, teaming with ODB. What didn’t? World Elite. His value is as a PR guy and a versatile worker that can put people over.

    Score: 5 for 7

    8. Davey Richards, Kyle O’Reilly & Tony Kozina will be back in Ring of Honor.

    Jeremy Thomas: FACT. The important thing here is the lack of a timeframe. The phrase “never say never” is almost a cliché in the wrestling industry but that’s because it’s so true, and more importantly on the indy scene you have to take all the stars you can get. How the hell do you think Scott Hall keeps getting work? Because despite being incredibly unreliable, he is a star. This whole Davey/O’Reilly/Kozina thing is a clusterfuck of epic proportions without a doubt, and it’s probably turned a ton of people off of them (rightfully so, in my opinion). But Davey has never been the most reliable or honorable of folks, so what makes this any different? At last word, ROH was giving Davey a break from the company so that he could come back fresh and they wouldn’t be overexposing their top talent and right or wrong, I don’t see that changing because he fucked over an indy promoter. O’Reilly and Kozina are both a bit trickier as they aren’t top ROH stars, and I could see the company not using them for a while. But they will be back eventually, because while it may always be the right thing to do, everyone forgives and forgets in the industry. Well, except Bruno Sammartino.

    Gavin Napier: FACT. Who the hell else is going to deal with them? They’ve shown themselves to be drama queens, and potentially a legal liability after what Kozina did. Cornette loves Richards, and he’ll bring his buddies back with him. Richards has burnt a lot of bridges on the indy scene as is, so he better hope Ring of Honor wants him back.

    Final Score: 6 for 8

    Gavin & Jeremy agree most of the time, but part ways on the subjects of Booker T as a General Manager & Shawn Michaels interacting with Brock Lesnar before SummerSlam. Which man has it right on the money? How do you feel about these various topics? Let us know down in the comment section! Thanks to Gavin & Jeremy for participating this week, and we’ll be back next week for more Fact or Fiction!

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